Billion-Dollar Babies By Nick Turse

Dandelion Salad

By Nick Turse
http://www.tomdispatch.com
June 24, 2008

Five Stealth Pentagon Contractors Reaping Billions of Tax Dollars

The top Pentagon contractors, like death and taxes, almost never change. In 2002, the massive arms dealers Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman ranked one, two, and three among Department of Defense contractors, taking in $17 billion, $16.6 billion, and $8.7 billion. Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman did it again in 2003 ($21.9, $17.3, and $11.1 billion); 2004 ($20.7, $17.1, and $11.9 billion); 2005 ($19.4, $18.3, and $13.5 billion); 2006 ($26.6, $20.3, and $16.6 billion); and, not surprisingly, 2007 as well ($27.8, $22.5, and $14.6 billion). Other regulars receiving mega-tax-funded payouts in a similarly clockwork-like manner include defense giants General Dynamics, Raytheon, the British weapons maker BAE Systems, and former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, as well as BP, Shell, and other power players from the military-petroleum complex.

With the basic Pentagon budget now clocking in at roughly $541 billion per year — before “supplemental” war funding for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the President’s Global War on Terror, as well as national security spending by other agencies, are factored in — even Lockheed’s hefty $28 billion take is a small percentage of the massive total. Obviously, significant sums of money are headed to other companies. However, most of them, including some of the largest, are all but unknown even to Pentagon-watchers and antiwar critics with a good grasp of the military industrial complex.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Countdown: The Terror Card + No Country Club for Obama + US Attys

Dandelion Salad

June 24, 2008

videocafeblog

The Terror Card

Keith reports on the response of the Obama campaign on Charlie Black’s remarks, McCain’s similar remarks about how playing the fear card might help President Bush in 2004, and how the fear card has been played by the Republicans who want to scare all of us to death. Richard Wolffe weighs in.

No Country Club for Obama

Keith reports on the recent ridiculous statement coming out of Karl Rove calling Barack Obama a “country club kind of guy” and Lindsey Graham’s statement about Obama on Meet the Press about Obama’s “lost innocence”. Howard Fineman weighs in.

Bushed!

A special edition of Bushed covering the hiring abuses at the DOJ which were recently uncovered. Jonathan Turley weighs in.

Inside “The Family”: Jeff Sharlet Speaks About His Unique Look at American Evangelicals

Dandelion Salad

by ANDY GREENE
http://www.rollingstone.com
Jun 17, 2008 10:43 AM

Six years ago journalist Jeff Sharlet went undercover in the underground evangelical organization known as the “The Family.” The group consists of Congressmen, members of the executive branch and many other D.C. powerbrokers. Unlike Pat Robertson and other widely known Christian conservatives, the Family operates outside of the public eye — but that by no means limits their influence or power. Sharlet’s book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power exposes the real people behind the growing evangelical movement in America.

Can you tell me how you got the idea for the book?

I was working on my first book, Killing the Buddha. A co-author and I were traveling around the country visiting unusual religious communities, and a friend was concerned that her brother had gotten involved in a cult. He got involved in this group called “The Family,” which is not exactly a cult — it’s much bigger and much more powerful, but in the short term all I knew is that this guy was involved in it and he said it was really much different from anything that I’d ever seen, and that I should go check it out for myself. That indication was crucial because you don’t get in without getting invited.

…continued

***

Jeff Sharlet: “The Family” (Harper)

Diane Reahm
NPR
June 24, 2008

It’s one of the most influential and least well known organizations in the country. The Family, also known as The Fellowship, consider themselves followers of Christ, and individuals responsible for changing the the world. An inside look at the power and history of The Family.

Audio link

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Gas-Pump Gouging; Just Don’t Blame The Saudis By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
06/24/08 “ICH

“I’ve seen this bad movie before. It’s the Enron movie, which hit the West Coast power-markets like a bomb because the federal government was asleep at the switch. Now it’s happening again with oil prices.” Rep. Jay Inslee D-WA

There is no oil shortage, not yet at least. That doesn’t mean we’re not quickly sliding towards Peak Oil. We probably are, but that has nothing to do with today’s gas prices. The reason oil has skyrocketed to nearly $140 per barrel is because of speculation; rampant, “unregulated” speculation. The peak oil doom-sayers are simply confusing the issue. This is not about shortages or scarcity; it’s about gaming the system to fatten the bottom line. The whole scam is being executed with excruciating precision by the same carpetbagging scoundrels who engineered the subprime fiasco; the investment bankers. The Wall Street Goliaths are using the futures market to recapitalize their flagging balance sheets after sustaining massive losses in the mortgage-backed securities boondoggle. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. Now they’re on to their next swindle; distorting the futures market with humongous leveraged bets on food and oil.

MarketWatch summed it up like this on Monday:

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Speculators now account for about 70% of all benchmark crude-oil trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from 37% in 2000, according to congressional findings cited in a Wall Street Journal report Monday. The report comes ahead of a House oversight subcommittee hearing slated for later Monday on Capitol Hill to study the role of financial investors in the crude futures market. There has been much discussion recently about how big a role so-called speculators have been playing in the sharp rise in energy prices, though no consensus has emerged on this point.

Congress, however, has grown increasingly concerned over speculative investors’ role in the energy market in comparison with those buying futures contracts to hedge against risk from price changes. Lawmakers are expected to consider legislation to set strict limits — or in some cases, an outright ban — on speculative trading in energy futures in some markets, the Journal reported.

In 1991, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission authorized the first exemption from position limits for swap dealers with no physical commodity exposure, the report said. This began what Dingell said was “A PROCESS THAT HAS ENABLED INVESTMENT BANKS TO ACCUMULATE ENORMOUS POSITIONS IN COMMODITY MARKETS,” according to the report. (MarketWatch)

So its not really Big Oil or “greedy Arabs” after all? Nope, it’s the cutthroat banksters again.

WHAT HAPPENED IN JIDDAH

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah convened an emergency Oil Summit in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia to deal with the disastrous effects that oil prices were having on the global economy. Rising prices are responsible for everything from food riots in Haiti to truckers strikes in Spain, Portugal and France. US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman delivered a prepared statement supporting the Bush administration’s position on the issue:

“Market fundamentals show us that production has not kept pace with growing demand for oil, resulting in increasing — and increasingly volatile — prices. Even despite higher global production for oil so far this year, inventories have been drawn down and current world production (spare) capacity is below historic levels — at fewer than two million barrels per day.”

Baloney.

Demand is not out-pacing supply. That’s a myth started by the people who are profiting by betting up oil futures; investment bankers. They’re led by their chief defender and former G-Sax scalawag, Henry Paulson.

Consider the remarks of Philip Davis in a recent post at Seeking Alpha:

“Now we have the Saudi oil summit this weekend and Saudi Arabia took 1.5M barrels a day off-line since July of ‘05 in a series of cuts and is currently producing just over 8Mbd out of their estimated 10.5Mbd maximum capacity. It is forecast by the EIA that next year OPEC alone will have over 3Mbd of spare capacity so this would be a terrible time for global demand to take a nose dive or there are going to be a lot of idle wells… Should global demand drop another 5% in the next 12 months, we could be looking at 8Mbd less demand than there was just a year ago.

As the London Telegraph points out, not only does OPEC have a current production surplus of 2M barrels a day but that surplus will rise to 3.5M barrels a day BY NEXT YEAR. Also, non-OPEC production is rising fast with a 1.5Mb gain in non-OPEC production coming down the pike next year. …Iraq, by the way, is no longer included as OPEC or non-OPEC production, a very clever way to hide 2.4 million barrels of production by the energy apologists.” (Philip Davis, “The Oil Shortage, and Other fairy Tales” Seeking Alpha) http://seekingalpha.com/article/78440-the-oil-shortage-and-other-fairy-tales

There’s no shortage, no scarcity. In fact, oil is being deliberately kept off the market to keep prices high. Consider this: if supply isn’t keeping up with demand then why aren’t there any lines at the gas stations like there were during the ’70s?

Because it’s all a fabrication. Prices are up because of speculation; that’s all.

Here’s what Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah’s said on Sunday:

“Among other factors behind this unjust increase in oil prices is the abhorrent acts of speculators seeking to undermine the market.” That’s why he called the meeting to begin with. The King insists that “speculators” have played a key role.” (AFP)

How about Kuwait?

The Kuwaiti Oil Minister Mohammed al-Olaim insisted that “there is enough oil to supply the market….We believe that the market is in equilibrium. The price is disconnected from fundamentals. It is not a problem of supply. Why would you have a supply problem WHEN DEMAND IS GOING DOWN”. (AP)

Of course, demand goes down in a recession.

What about Libya?

“We believe speculation has its impact,” the OPEC chief said. Libya may reduce its oil production because THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH OIL ON THE MARKET Oil Minister Shokri Ghanem said. “We may have to cut production…. We don’t see any need for more oil. There is plenty of oil in the market,” Ghanem said, commenting on Saudi Arabia’s decision. (Bloomberg News)

How about Iraq? Can we at least count on our brothers in Iraq to maintain the administration’s falsehoods about supply problems?

According to Reuters: Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said, “Any increase in world oil output would not have a significant impact on record-high crude prices that are being driven by speculation… Regulations needed to be introduced to stabilize oil markets. I do not think increasing any amount in the international market will have a significant impact on the prices. It is up to the stock exchange and the regulations in the industrialized nations. It is not something OPEC can contribute to. We did not see any impact on the prices from the Saudi’s previous increase.” (Reuters)

Venezuela?

Venezuela Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez refused to join the weekend conference because “We believe it is not necessary to increase output…Oil production levels aren’t behind the increase in prices,” Ramirez said adding that soaring oil prices were caused by ‘speculative interest, a falling dollar and global inflation’. (Reuters)

So, are all the oil ministers lying or is the Bush administration intentionally misleading the public about supply problems?

Its always easy to point the finger at Big Oil or “greedy” Arabs for price gouging, but that’s not what’s really going on. The Bush administration is colluding with their Wall Street buddies to fleece the public by inflating another bubble; this time in commodities. It’s just way of further enriching the wealthy at the expense of working people. Meanwhile the middle class continues to get hammered by soaring food and fuel costs and a steadily deteriorating standard of living.

Congress could end this charade in a minute by passing legislation that would close the Swaps Loophole and require steeper margin limits on oil futures. But don’t hold your breath. Wall Street is the biggest contributor to political campaigns which explains how we got into this pickle to begin with. It also explains why Congress’s public approval rating has shriveled to a measly 12 per cent.

Do Bush and Bernanke know what the banks are up to? Do they know that billions that are being loaned to the banks via the Fed’s “auction facilities” are probably being diverted into the commodities market and driving up the prices of raw materials and oil, while pushing the world towards global recession?

You bet they do and they’re probably doing everything in their power to keep the banking system from buckling beneath the weight of its own massive debts.

Here’s an excerpt from Spiegel Online “Are Pension Funds Fueling High Oil? which explains the whole scam:

“Commodities exchanges limit the number of positions an investor can take in the market, but Michael Masters, of Masters Capital Management, says the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has allowed unlimited speculation in these markets through a loophole. This so-called SWAPS LOOPHOLE EXEMPTS INVESTMENT BANKS LIKE GOLDMAN SACHS AND MERRILL LYNCH FROM REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AND LIMITS ON TRADING POSITIONS THAT ARE REQUIRED OF OTHER INVESTORS. THE LOOPHOLE ALLOWS PENSION FUNDS TO ENTER INTO A SWAP AGREEMENT WITH AN INVESTMENT BANK WHICH CAN THEN TRADE UNLIMITED NUMBERS OF THE CONTRACTS IN FUTURES MARKETS.”

“Some experts fault the CFTC, charged with regulating commodities markets, for allowing such loopholes. “Congress has provided the CFTC the power to control this unlimited [speculation]; the law is very specific about establishing position limits,” says Steve Briese, author of The Commitments of Traders Bible and CommitmentsOfTraders.org, a site that focuses on US futures markets. “The problem is they have abdicated this role.” The dramatic surge in energy prices has helped to spark inflation across the economy and, as others at the hearing testified, has cut into profits of most in the supply chain. Briese points to Treasury reports that the THE TOP FIVE USERS OF SWAP AGREEMENTS ARE INVESTMENT BANKS, FOUR OF WHICH DOMINATE SWAP DEALING IN COMMODITIES AND COMMODITIES FUTURES: Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC North America Holdings, and Wachovia. (Spiegel Online)

The bloody footprints lead straight to Wall Street.

Here’s more proof.

Citing the harmful impacts record high crude oil prices are having on consumers, US Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) introduced a bill to close regulatory loopholes:

“The numbers back this up: Between Sept. 30, 2003, and May 6, 2008, contracts held by traders jumped from 714,000 to more than 3 million, a 425% increase. Since 2003, commodity index speculation has increased 1,900% from an estimated $13 billion to $260 billion invested. Stupak said CFTC data show that in 2000, physical hedges that airlines and other businesses use to ensure a stable price for fuel in coming months and actually imply delivery, accounted for an estimated 63% of the total futures market, while speculators represented about 37%. “By April 2008, physical hedgers only controlled 29% and speculators had taken over a whopping 71% of the oil futures market.”

He said 85% of the futures purchases tied to commodity index speculation comes through swap dealers—investment banks that serve as intermediaries for their pension fund and sovereign wealth fund customers. One report found that $55 billion of total worldwide commodity trading over 55 days came in as swaps. “The CFTC has allowed 117 exceptions to swaps. When that many exceptions are allowed, they are not really subject to oversight. We have a CFTC that’s supposed to be doing its job. I’m not certain that it is,” he said. (“Oil and Gas Journal” Texas
http://www.ogj.com/display_article/332420/7/ONART/none/GenIn/1/Stupak’s-new-bill-attacks-excessive-oil-market-speculation/)

ANOTHER SMOKING GUN

On May 20, 2008 Michael Masters, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, on the role that speculation has played in recent commodity price movements. He said:

“In the popular press the explanation given most often for rising oil prices is the increased demand for oil from China. According to the DOE, annual Chinese demand for petroleum has increased over the last five years from 1.88 billion barrels to 2.8 billion barrels, an increase of 920 million barrels. Over the same five-year period, INDEX SPECULATORS DEMAND FOR PETROLEUM FUTURES HAS INCREASED BY 848 MILLION BARRELS. The increase in demand from Index Speculators is almost equal to the increase in demand from China!”

Masters is right; there is massive speculation which is distorting the market, but who is responsible? Clearly, the pension fund managers aren’t to blame. After all, the largest US pension funds, which is the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), has only invested about $1.1 billion in commodities swaps contracts. That’s a far-cry from $260 billion. The investment giants and hedge funds are probably leveraging the money they receive from the pension funds many times over to increase the size of their bets. Keep in mind, oil futures can be purchased for a mere $.06 on the dollar; that’s a lot of potential leverage.

Masters again:

“Commodities prices have increased more in the aggregate over the last five years than at any other time in U.S. history. We have seen commodity price spikes occur in the past as a result of supply crises, such as during the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. But today, unlike previous episodes, SUPPLY IS AMPLE: there are no lines at the gas pump and there is plenty of food on the shelves. Today, Index Speculators are pouring billions of dollars into the commodities futures markets, speculating that commodity prices will increase.”

Index Speculators have now stockpiled, via the futures market, the equivalent of
1.1 billion barrels of petroleum, effectively ADDING EIGHT TIMES AS MUCH OIL TO THEIR OWN STOCKPILE AS THE UNITED STATES HAS ADDED TO THE Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the last five years:

“We calculate that Index Speculators flooded the markets with $55 billion in just the first 52 trading days of this year. That’s an increase in the dollar value of outstanding futures contracts of more than $1 billion per trading day.

Doesn’t it seem likely that an increase in demand of this magnitude in the commodities futures markets could go a long way in explaining the extraordinary commodities price increases in the beginning of 2008?”

Yes, it does. And it also explains where billions of dollars from the Fed’s “auction facilities” are going. After all, they’re certainly not going into mortgage-backed securities anymore, and MBS represented nearly 70 per cent of bank revenue. So, where would a desperate banker turn if his main revenue-stream had dried up and the corporate bond market was frozen solid?

How about oil futures and commodities; the only game in town?

Why would an investment banker care if the economy tanks and people in Asia starve? That’s not his problem. His job is to keep the shareholders happy, right?

As the MarketWatch article suggests, oil prices are inflated by about 70 per cent. Bernanke could stop Wall Street’s feeding frenzy in short-order by just raising interest rates by 50 basis points at the next FOMC meeting on Wednesday. That would poke a hole in the oil bubble and send the speculators scuttling for the exits. But don’t count on it. There’s as much chance that Bernanke will do the right thing as there is of Congress actually doing their job. Only a fool would take that bet.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Bush Discovers He’s Not Descended From Texas Cowboys, But Is A Rich Kid From Connecticut

Satire

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
June 24, 2008

CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush told reporters that he was totally in shock to have discovered that he was really a child of wealth and privilege rather than coming from a long line of wranglers from the Lone Star State. “You could have knocked me for a loop with a horsefeather,” Bush said, “but apparently my granddad was a rich and powerful Senator from Connecticut who traded with the Nazis and not some cowpoke from Amarillo who traded with the Indians.”

Bush discovered his true ancestry when he found an old family Bible and had a third grader read it to him. “At first I thought that little kid was a lying enemy combatant,” Bush told the Post Times Sun Dispatch, “but then Laura told me it was all true, just before I sent the lad to Guantanamo. Here I was thinking I was a hard working man-of-the-people who made it from the sweat of his brow clearing ranch brush, and I find out I am a man-of-war from a rich and powerful family who handed everything to me on a silver spoon. I was going to ask the Supreme Court Justices if it was true I had everything fixed in my favor, but they were too busy talking to my daddy.”

Bush said now that he knows he is a spoiled brat from New Haven, he will have to rethink his Texas accent and for that matter rethink everything he has done in his life.

Rogue Nation: Time to change the course of U.S. history

Dandelion Salad

by Peter Stern
Global Research
June 24, 2008

It is time for the American people to take back their nation from irresponsible and lackluster special interest-motivated elected officials. Impeaching top members of the Bush administration may be in order.

The majority of Americans should be unhappy with our nation’s growth and evolution–or, if you believe it–intelligent design.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent. It’s of no importance if you’re middle class or poor, religious or atheist. As Bob Dylan sang during the 1960’s, “You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.”

On the national, state and local levels, generations of Americans will have to struggle to change the last decade of harm generated by wealthy special interests and the elected officials they have placed in their pockets.

Most Americans, individuals and families, are hurting–big time!

For just a few people to achieve vast wealth and power, generations of our children have been placed on a back-burner. They and their grandchildren will continue to pay the price for our folly, which was to permit leaders to squelch or circumvent constitutional laws to gain more profits. The American people have been deceived. Here is a list of some of the ways:

  • Starting a needless invasion and war with Iraq
  • Sending our children on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were ill-conceived and absurdly planned with no victory in sight
  • Cutting taxes for the rich, while spending more than $3 trillion on war costs
  • Determining many U.S. policies and actions behind “closed doors”
  • Providing false and/or misleading information and intelligence to the American people
  • Eliminating urgently needed social programs for children and poorer citizens
  • Doing little to prevent the diminishing quality of public education
  • Permitting increased health care costs despite curbing “frivolous” medical lawsuits
  • Permitting astronomical costs of fuel —- gas, oil, electric
  • Permitting increasing costs of tuition for higher education
  • Outsourcing millions of American jobs and services without providing new opportunities for American workers
  • Lying to the people of New Orleans and not providing needed emergency financing and services during the Katrina fiasco in a timely manner
  • Selling off American public lands and ports for special interest gains
  • Permitting only special interests to bid (or not even have to bid) on lucrative service contracts
  • Permitting the “sale” of American government to the highest special-interest contributors
  • Privatizing Medicare programs recklessly and irresponsibly for special-interest gains
  • Pushing to privatize Social Security for special-interest gains
  • Increasing voter fraud cases and countenancing lack of voting machine integrity (with these machines manufactured by special-interest campaign contributors)
  • Cutting financing for public education during the past decade and diverting those tax dollars to other interests
  • Permitting our infrastructures to decay and become unsafe
  • Promoting irrational and unneeded toll road plans to generate more profits for special interests
  • Freezing gas taxes, which build and maintain roads, and/or diverting gas taxes to other special-interest needs
  • Providing loose or no enforcement of immigration laws and policies
  • Permitting illegal U.S. government spying and wiretapping on private citizens.

The list goes on. These are criminal and/or reckless irresponsible actions perpetrated by U.S. elected officials against the American people. There’s a Connecticut “cowboy” in the White House who needs to be “lassoed and reined-in.” The Bush administration has failed the American people, families and children. It has done so unabashed and without a conscience.

It is time for the American people to take back their nation from irresponsible and lackluster special interest-motivated elected officials. Impeaching top members of the Bush administration may be in order.

It is time to create stronger campaign finance laws with enforcement capabilities that tell billion-dollar corporations they no longer can purchase “the best government money can buy.”

America has become a rogue nation and is distrusted by the world and many of its own citizens.

The Bush administration and future leaders cannot be permitted to continue to operate as some sort of religious zealots and blatant imperialists.  The U.S. must be managed as the nation of, by and–foremost–for American citizens.

Where, oh where, has America gone?

Peter Stern, of Driftwood, TX, a former director of information services, university professor, public school administrator, is a political writer published frequently throughout the Texas community and nationwide. He is a disabled Vietnam veteran and holds three post-graduate degrees. He may be contacted at pstern@austin.rr.com.

© Copyright Peter Stern, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9442

see

Charge Bush With Murder by Francis A. Boyle (audio)

Impeach

Charge Bush With Murder by Francis A. Boyle (audio)

Dandelion Salad

ICH

Posted 06/24/08

Source

George W. Bush could be indicted at the state level for murder with malice aforethought, that according to internationally recognized legal expert Francis A. Boyle of the School of Law at the University of Illinois.

According to Boyle, President Bush deceived US soldiers about the reason for sending them to Iraq. Thus, he argues, the 4100 US soldiers who have died in Iraq thus far were murdered. Professor Boyle sees a variety of cases that could be brought and he believes it would take just one indictment and the whole house of cards would fall.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Before Scott McClellan, there was Paul O’Neill (videos)

A Totally Lawless Regime By Paul Craig Roberts

Maj. Gen. Taguba Accuses Bush Admin of War Crimes (video)

Bugliosi Seeks “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

7 Things You Can’t Say in ’08: In Memory of George Carlin (15 sec vid)

Dandelion Salad

votenader08

In memory of comedian George Carlin, here’s 7 things that you most likely can’t say in your 2008 Presidential campaign. Vote for the one who breaks the taboo – Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader!
http://votenader.org

Continue reading

Confronting Foreign Intelligence and Information Gaps + Feingold on the 4th Amendment

Dandelion Salad

NewAmericaFoundation

A copy of the Senator’s remarks can be found here: http://www.newamerica.net/f…(pdf)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

***

Democracy Now!

June 24, 2008

“One of the Greatest Intrusions, Potentially, on the Rights of Americans Protected Under the 4th Amendment”–Sen. Feingold Blasts Telecom Spy Bill

It’s being described as the most significant revision of the nation’s surveillance law in three decades. The Senate is preparing to vote on rewriting the nation’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and giving immunity to phone companies involved in President Bush’s secret domestic spy program. We speak with Senator Russ Feingold (D–WI), who has been the leading congressional voice against the Bush administration’s warrantless spy program since it was exposed nearly three years ago. [includes rush transcript]

Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download

transcript

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HR 6304 – A Bill to Abolish the 4th Amendment

The Hedonists of Power By Chris Hedges

Mosaic News – 06/23/08: World News From The Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

For more: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Fierce Fighting Erupts in Tripoli, Lebanon,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Working to Leberate the Sheb’a Farms,” Future TV, Lebanon
“Sarkozy Visits Israel,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Al Liby Calls for Islamic State in Somalia,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Palestinians Complain of Food Shortage in Gaza,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“US-Iraqi Joint Operation in Amara,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Tehran Wants Official Response to ITS Package,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“Jordan’s king urges Nobel Prize laureates to help achieve peace,” Jordan TV, Jordan
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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Subversion of the Rule of Law: Bush’s Torture Attorneys

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, June 24, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

The subversion of the rule of law by the George W. Bush administration was neither accidental nor contingent on executing its fraudulent “war on terror.” On the contrary, within weeks of the 9/11 terror attacks while the remains of the Twin Towers continued to smolder, the foundations of the American Republic were consciously undermined by high regime officials.

Ideologically predisposed to governance via unlimited executive power, administration lawyers, many of whom identified with neoconservatism, exploited 9/11 as a salutary means to achieve an unsavory end: the creation of an authoritarian order where secretive–and highly-profitable–“public-private partnerships” served as a code for the “creative destruction” sought by their corporatist masters.

As Naomi Klein describes the processes in play after September 11:

Believers in the shock doctrine are convinced that only a great rupture–a flood, a war, a terrorist attack–can generate the kind of vast, clean canvases they crave. It is in these malleable moments, when we are psychologically unmoored and physically uprooted, that these artists of the real plunge in their hands and begin their work or remaking the world. (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007, p. 21.)

It is hardly a coincidence that Klein begins her exploration of “the shock doctrine” with a descriptive history of the CIA’s MKULTRA “mind control” experiments of the 1950s and 1960s. Over time, CIA psychiatrists and paramilitary operators crafted a series of devil’s dictionaries rooted in the soil of psychological terror and the quantification of human emotion. Both the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation and its deranged twin, the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual–1983, while creatures of America’s anticommunist Cold War jihad have had a long-lasting and disastrous impact on U.S. military and intelligence policies.

While KUBARK was the monstrous offspring of MKULTRA, the 1983 Manual was a hybrid beast, a “product” lifted from KUBARK guidelines and from U.S. Military Intelligence field manuals written in the 1960s, the distilled “wisdom” of the Army’s Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program code named “Project X.” As Thomas Blanton and Peter Kornbluh describe,

The manual was used in numerous Latin American countries as an instructional tool by CIA and Green Beret trainers between 1983 and 1987 and became the subject of executive session Senate Intelligence Committee hearings in 1988 because of human rights abuses committed by CIA-trained Honduran military units. The manual allocates considerable space to the subject of “coercive questioning” and psychological and physical techniques. The original text stated that “we will be discussing two types of techniques, coercive and non-coercive. While we do not stress the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them.” After Congress began investigating human rights violations by U.S.-trained Honduran intelligence officers, that passage was hand edited to read “while we deplore the use of coercive techniques, we do want to make you aware of them so that you may avoid them.” Although the manual advised methods of coercion similar to those used in the Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. forces, it also carried a prescient observation: “The routine use of torture lowers the moral caliber of the organization that uses it and corrupts those that rely on it….” (“Prisoner Abuse: Patterns from the Past,” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 122, The National Security Archive, May 12, 2004)

Bush’s “War Council” of administration attorneys, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John C. Yoo and William J. Haynes II crafted a legal strategy for “handling” detainees in U.S. gulags that may very well lead to war crimes prosecutions for egregious breeches of international law.

Once this crew decided that “war on terror” detainees had no legal rights under the Geneva Convention and especially, Common Article 3, it set off a chain of events that ended in state-sanctioned murder and torture.

Nowhere was this grotesque strategy more apparent than in Bush administration moves to draft “enhanced interrogation techniques” for use at its Guantánamo Bay facility. But “what happened at Guantánamo, didn’t stay there,” as the “Gitmo regime” inevitably migrated to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soon after 9/11, the Pentagon and the CIA “began an orchestrated effort to tap expertise from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape school, for use in the interrogation of terrorist suspects,” writes Salon’s Mark Benjamin, the investigative journalist who exposed the SERE school’s role in implementing a harsh torture regime. Benjamin avers,

SERE training has nothing to do with effective interrogation, according to military experts. Trained interrogators don’t work in the program. Skilled, experienced interrogators, in fact, say that only a fool would think that the training could somehow be reverse-engineered into effective interrogation techniques.

But that’s exactly what the Bush government sought to do. As the plan rolled forward, military and law enforcement officials consistently sent up red flags that the SERE-based interrogation program wasn’t just wrongheaded, it was probably illegal. (“A Timeline to Bush Government Torture,” Salon, June 18, 2008)

Last Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held hearings on the evolution of Bush torture policies. Memos and documents released by the committee paint a grim picture of what the administration sought from reverse-engineered SERE tactics.

Documents released by the SASC revealed that the SERE Training School, administered by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), conducted briefings and provided a detailed dossier on SERE tactics to the Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes II in July 2002.

Indeed, according to international human rights attorney Philippe Sands,

“There were backchannels, unconnected communications,” involving a military intelligence person and a non-military intelligence person, who was passing information outside. [Former Guantánamo commander Maj. Gen. Mike] Dunlavey couldn’t remember his name. He told me that the most senior Washington lawyers visited Guantánamo, including David Addington, the Vice President’s lawyer, with Gonzales and Haynes, at the end of September before he signed off on his memo. (Torture Team, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, p. 47)

As Sands and other investigators, such as psychoanalyst Stephen Soldz have reported, moves to reverse-engineer SERE tactics by Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCT) tasked to the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, following explicit demands by Bush’s team of torture attorneys, led to systematic and widespread detainee abuse. At Guantánamo and elsewhere, BSCT psychologists held operational positions and did not function as mental health providers but rather, were present at Guantánamo for the purpose of instructing personnel in the use of “enhanced interrogation” tactics, torture.

Below, I provide an abridged summary of SERE techniques exported to Guantánamo. Most, though not all, of the descriptions have been omitted, but I have provided SERE’s full explanation of the purpose each technique hoped to achieve. The text is excerpted from documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee; all are prefaced by the acronym “FOUO,” For Official Use Only.

(Tab 3 — Extracts) July 25, 2002 document entitled “Physical Pressures Used in Resistance Training and Against American Prisoners and Detainees.” Attached to JPRA Memorandum of July 26, 2002.

1. FACIAL SLAP: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

2. WALLING: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

3. SILENCING FACIAL HOLD: Typical conditions for application: to threaten or intimidate via invasion of personal space, to instill fear and apprehension without using direct physical force, to punish illogical, defiant, or repetitive responses.

4. FACIAL HOLD: Typical conditions for application: to threaten or intimidate via invasion of personal space, to instill fear and apprehension without using direct physical force, to punish illogical, defiant, or repetitive responses.

5. ABDOMEN SLAP: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

6. FINGER PRESS: Typical conditions for application: to instill apprehension or insult.

7. WATER: When this tactic is used, water is poured, flicked, or tossed on the subject. … Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to startle, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

8. BLOCK HOLD: The subject can be sitting, kneeling or standing with their arms extended out straight with the palms up. The interrogator puts a weighted block, 10-15 lbs., on their hands. The subject is required to keep their arms straight, told not to drop the block at risk of additional punishment. Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to demonstrate self-imposed pressure, to instill apprehension, humiliation or cause insult.

(AFC Note: the “self-imposed pressure” above is described by Alfred W. McCoy in A Question of Torture as self-inflicted pain, that is, a CIA psychological technique to wear down the “subject” by deflecting responsibility for severe pain from the torturer to the tortured. “You are responsible for your suffering; it will stop when you cooperate.”)

9. BLOCK SIT: Using a block with a pointed end that is pointed to the floor, the subject is told to sit on the flat top with feet and knees together. The knees are bent 90 degrees, and the subject is not allowed to spread their legs to form a tripod. The process of trying to balance on this very unstable seat and concentrate on the interrogator’s questions at the same time is very difficult. Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to demonstrate self-imposed pressure, to instill apprehension, humiliation or cause insult.

10. ATTENTION GRASP: Typical conditions for application: to startle, to instill fear, apprehension, and humiliation or cause insult.

11. STRESS POSITION: The subject is placed on their knees, told to extend their arms either straight up or straight to the front. The subject is not allowed to lean back on their heels, arch their back or relieve the pressure off the point of the knee. Note: there are any number of uncomfortable physical positions that can be used and considered in this category. Typical conditions for application: to create a distracting pressure, to demonstrate self-imposed pressure, to instill apprehension, humiliation or cause insult.

APPROVED PHYSICAL PRESSURES USED IN OTHER SERVICE SCHOOL RESISTANCE TRAINING PROGRAMS INCLUDE:

1. SMOKE: Pipe tobacco smoke is blown into a subject’s face while in a standing, sitting or kneeling position. … Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

2. WATERBOARD: Subject is interrogated while strapped to a wooden board, approximately 4’x7′. Often the subject’s feet are elevated after being strapped down and having their torso stripped. Up to 1.5. gallons of water is slowly poured directly onto the subject’s face from a height of 12-24 inches. In some cases, a wet cloth is placed over the subject’s face. It will remain in place for a short period of time. Trained supervisory and medical staff monitors the subject’s physical condition. Student may be threatened or strapped back onto the board at a later time. However, no student will have water applied a second time. This tactic instills a feeling of drowning and quickly compels cooperation. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior.

3. SHAKING AND MANHANDLING: Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior.

4. GROUNDING: This tactic is using the manhandling pressure and forcefully guiding the subject to the ground, never letting go. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior.

5. CRAMPED CONFINEMENT (“the little box”): This is administered by placing a subject into a small box in a kneeling position with legs crossed at the ankle and having him learn [sic] forward to allow the door to be closed without exerting pressure on the back. Time and temperature is closely monitored. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

6. IMMERSION IN WATER/WETTING DOWN: Wetting the subject consists of spraying with a hose, hand pressure water cans, or immersion in a shallow pool of water. Typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult.

OTHER TACTICS TO INDUCE CONTROL, DEPENDENCY, COMPLIANCE, AND COOPERATION

1. Isolation/Solitary Confinement.

2. Induced Physical Weakness and Exhaustion.

3. Degradation.

4. Conditioning.

5. Sensory Deprivation: When a subject is deprived of sensory input for an interrupted period, for approximately 6-8 hours, it is not uncommon for them to experience visual, auditory and/or tactile hallucinations. If deprived of input, the brain will make it up. This tactic is used in conjunction with other methods to promote dislocation of expectations and induce emotions.

6. Sensory overload: This includes being continually exposed to bright, flashing lights, loud music, annoying/irritating sounds, etc. This tactic elevates the agitation level of a person and increases their emotionality, as well as enhances the effects of isolation.

7. Disruption of sleep and biorhythms.

8. Manipulation of diet.

Despite hearings by the House and Senate into widespread detainee abuse, not a single administration official has been brought to justice. This too, should surprise no one since Congress has colluded with the Bush regime’s torture policies and its broader “war on terror” every step of the way.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9438

see

Naomi Klein “The Shock Doctrine” & “No Logo” interview (must-see video)

Klein-Naomi

Soldz

Juan Cole on Antiwar Radio (videos)

Dandelion Salad

AntiwarRadio

Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan, discusses the American media’s abandonment of the Iraq war as a topic worth covering, the humanitarian catastrophe that continues to deteriorate, the “excess deaths” in Iraq since the invasion, the total number of Iraqis killed with American complicity over the years, America’s government’s on-off relationship with Saddam Hussein, the failure of the “surge” to allow for 5 million refugees to return to their homes.

Juan R. I. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively about modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. His most recent book is Sacred Space and Holy War. His blog, Informed Comment, is a widely read source for Middle East news and commentary.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

see

The Real State of Iraq By Juan Cole

Iraq story buried by US networks

McCain and Obama to drop out; Cheney to run on both tickets

Satire

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
June 24, 2008

WASHINGTON – Sources close to Vice President Dick Cheney have told the Post Times Sun Dispatch that sometime in late October Senators John McCain and Barack Obama will suddenly drop out of the Presidential race. The source, who wished to remain nameless as well as faceless, due to a recent hunting accident, said that McCain will develop a heart irregularity and leave to spend time with his family while Obama will resign as the Democratic nominee after a sudden attack of conscience regarding the awesome power needed to be an effective President. “This will leave a void that only Dick Cheney can fill,” the source said, since having a heart and a conscience is a hindrance to being President.”

“With Cheney being at the top of the ticket for both the Republicans and Democrats,” said James Easterbrook, a political analyst with Blackstone and Associates, “the American people will know who will be the next President and in these troubled times certainty is priceless.”

“Me being the standard bearer for both parties is a win-win situation,” Cheney said. “Those that want a strong leader to fight terrorism will feel secure that I am at the helm, and those that hear my name and get violently ill, can take solace that on one of the tickets, I will be the loser.”